🍂 Happy Sunday, everyone! 🍂
I’m back with another Halloween Mini Review, this time of a spooky anthology – and I know what we’re all thinking: oh Gods, no.
But surprisingly, I actually enjoyed this anthology a lot!
Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering did such a terrific job at picking awesome witchy stories for this – quality writing, important topics, memorable characters – all of which created a fantastic reading experience.
Also, I realise this review may seem quite long, but it’s only because there are so many stories in it that I had to break down and give each a mini review of their own… I hope you enjoy! 🎃
This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.
These are tales of wickedness.. stories of evil and cunning, written by today’s women you should fear. Includes tales from Kelley Armstong, Rachel Caine and Sherrilyn Kenyon, writing in their own bestselling universes.
Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery will take the classic tropes of tales of witchcraft and infuse them with fresh, feminist perspective and present-day concerns–even if they’re set in the past. These witches might be monstrous, or they might be heroes, depending on their own definitions. Even the kind hostess with the candy cottage thought of herself as the hero of her own story. After all, a woman’s gotta eat.
Bring out your dread.
🧹 An Invitation to a Burning (Kat Howard) – This wasn’t my favourite of the bunch, I’ll be honest. But it had an eery atmosphere to it that really gave me the chills and I always enjoy revenge tales so…
🧹 Widows’ Walk (Angela Slatter) – I really liked this one. I have a soft spot for kids from broken homes, and it was really heart-warming to see them being saved from a terrible future. It’s infuriating how sometimes mothers put their lovers first and end up jeopardising their children’s lives – thank God for witches!
🧹 Black Magic Momma (Kelley Armstrong) – I love tough, badass mums who sacrifice everything for their kids (very welcoming, after reading the previous tale) even if that means being followed by trouble everywhere they go.
🧹 The Night Nurse (Sarah Langan) – This one was chilling! The first story with an African-American lead, with whispers of voodoo and urban legends, and that is pretty much the stuff of nightmares for any mother. I was left a bit unsettled by the ending.
🧹 The Memories of Trees (Mary San Giovanni) – Based on witch-hunting and prosecution, this one was pretty gory in comparison to the others and definitely a lot more poignant and gut-wrenching.
🧹 Home: A Morganville Vampires Story (Rachel Caine) – I started this one and didn’t bother to finish. I just felt really confused as this was based on an existing series by the author. We are basically thrown into this weird scene between characters we are not familiar with, whose backstories are a mystery to us, and it’s really hard to make sense of it all or feel connected to what’s going on.
🧹 The Deer Wife (Jennifer McMahon) – Lesbian romance with a fairy tale quality to it, so empowering and honest, it explores the breaking point of a mother whose life stopped making sense – until she found her.
🧹 The Dancer (Kristin Dearborn) – This was a strange one. I didn’t quite understand what was happening at first, but it had a surprising twist. It revolves around a teenage dancer and the man that comes to access her “condition”.
🧹 Bless Your Heart (Hillary Monahan) – One of my favourites! A sassy Southern mum does what she has to do to protect her bullied teenage son, which involves a bit more imagery than I was hoping for… Yikes.
🧹 The Debt (Ania Ahlborn) – Another fairytale-like story, with one of those chilling endings you were hoping to be wrong about, but still enjoy immensely. So, so good!
🧹 Toil & Trouble: A Dark-Hunter Hellchaser Story (Sherrilyn Kenyon & Madaugh Kenyon) – Again, I found myself not enjoying this as much because I knew nothing about the characters or story behind their connection. It was just confusing and couldn’t pull me in.
🧹 Last Stop on Route Nine (Tananarive Due) – Two cousins fear for their lives after their car breaks down in the middle of a road on the other side of a strange fog. Another brilliant one; terrifying not only because of the paranormal factor but because of the racism ingrained in society.
🧹 Where Relics Go To Dream and Die (Rachel Autumn Deering) – I didn’t love this one. It was… Strange. And vague. I liked the subtlety of it but at the same time couldn’t really feel engaged.
🧹 This Skin (Amber Benson) – Quite the sucker punch, this one! I have to say I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t, and stayed that way even after the ending. This story gave me loooots of questions.
🧹 Haint Me Too (Chesya Burke) – Once again, the topic of African-American slavery blended in with the paranormal created absolute perfection. Be ready to suffer.
🧹 The Nekrolog (Helen Marshall) – An Eastern European tale taking place during the Chernobyl disaster… Couldn’t have asked for a more outstanding paranormal take on it.
🧹 Gold Among the Black (Alma Katsu) – This one made me tear up a bit; I mean, just give me a dog and a kid trying to survive alone in the world and my heart goes all out to them. Even if things aren’t really what they seem…
🧹 How To Become a Witch (Theodora Goss) – This amazing, refreshing, feminist take on Snow White, with lots of bits and pieces from other fairy tales as well, gave me LIFE. A fantastic ending to this anthology!
I absolutely loved Hex Life, despite the couple odd stories I didn’t particularly care for.
It had amazing feminist energy, brilliantly fleshed-out characters, powerful endings, super original premises, and all of them managed to offer such unique takes on witchcraft.
The authors were able to blend contemporary social themes with old school paranormal so brilliantly, I was in awe. There was also significant LGBT and POC representation, which was a really pleasant surprise.
If you love feminist witches, horror stories, and fairytale retellings, be sure to check this (massive) collection out – it’ll make all your Halloween dreams come true!